From graduate students to givers: learn how one alumni family is helping international graduate students at Purdue take their next giant leap
At Purdue, no giant leap is taken alone. We are a community of givers, willing to share advice, mentorship, or even financial support with those in need. One alumni family is doing all three. Meet Mayank & Vandana Aggarwal, two Graduate School alumni who are determined to help Purdue’s international graduate students take their next giant leap.
Mayank Aggarwal graduated in 2004 with an MBA, and his wife, Vandana Aggarwal graduated in 2005 with an MS in Technology. The two currently reside in Texas with their family; however, they often think back on their time at Purdue fondly. “Purdue brings back happy memories and a smile whenever I look back,” shared Vandana. “Purdue allowed me to build a network of friends that are now spread all over the world,” reflected Mayank, “I loved the camaraderie of the student body. I still remember how my fellow students supported me through case interview prep sessions."
After receiving his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Bombay, Mayank and Vandana left behind family and friends in India to pursue graduate degrees at Purdue. Mayank, who was always passionate about Operations & Strategy, decided to apply to Krannert due to their “great OPS Research focus” that allowed him to build on his engineering background, while Vandana attended a few non-degree courses before deciding to pursue an MS in OLS.
During their time here, the couple was able to build a community of friends, colleagues, and mentors that supported them throughout their graduate education. Vandana reflected fondly on her Women’s Group, which allowed her to help families in need, meet people from around the world, and learn about their cultures. She also shared her appreciation for her advisor and professors who help her successfully complete her MS while pregnant with her first child. “Being a grad student helped me evolve as an individual to be independent in my thinking and to be able to express myself, which was a big cultural shift coming from India,” Vandana said.
For Mayank, it was the badminton and racquetball games at the Co-Rec, social nights at Harry’s Chocolate Shop, and collaborating with colleagues in RAWLS that stood out to him the most, “The small class size coupled with the student body diversity was the highlight of my two years at Purdue. It helped me become a better team player and communicator,” shared Mayank.
While the Aggarwals enjoy their many happy memories of Purdue, they are still very much interested in playing an active role in the Purdue community. That is why they established the Aggarwal Graduate Scholarship, which helps relieve the financial burden of international graduate students so they can enjoy their time at Purdue as much as Mayank & Vandana did. “We were lucky to get the financial support and community at Purdue to pursue our dreams. It is only right to make the same opportunity available to others,” shared Mayank. “We always wanted to give back, especially to the Graduate School. Being international students, we understand what it takes to get through grad school,” added Vandana.
The Aggarwals are also interested in supporting graduate students through sharing their expertise and mentorship. Both plan to become more involved in Graduate School events, including the upcoming Alumni in Industry panel, which will take place in Fall 2022. Vandana is also very passionate about women's employment and helping women kick start their careers. As for advice, the pair have an abundance to share, but they would like to leave Boilermakers with the following thoughts, “Have aspirational goals, but focus on what you can do today,” shared Mayank, “Frequently people forget execution and get lost in planning hypotheticals. Get 1% better every day.” Vandana’s advice, “Never be afraid to ask, you don't know what might come about.”
Mayank & Vandana are perfect examples of how Boilermakers can support Boilermakers, even after their time at Purdue. If you would like to be involved in future Graduate School events or support graduate students through gifts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit, https://www.purdue.edu/gradschool/alumni/index.php.
Writer: Brittany Ledman
June 07, 2022